Book Tour of “The Assistant” by Riana Everly

Welcome Back Dear Readers,

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This time I am hosting Riana Everly, who is the author of “The Assistant” which is a “Before Pride and Prejudice” book, which follows Mr Edward Gardiner, uncle to the Bennet girls. The book has just been published, it’s A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean.

Let’s start out with a Blurb;

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean
When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.
But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.
Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

Doesn’t it sound brilliantly adventurous?! I sure thought so, and I can guaranty it is well worth reading! And to imagine “Aunt and Uncle” Gardiner’s story!! It is so nerve wrecking, so adventurous and sweet at the same time! Riana wants a few words before I start going on about how brilliantly well her book is written and comes to my review of her book!

Thank you, Sophia, for welcoming me to your blog. I’m delighted to be here and to talk about my new book, The Assistant. This is my first stop on the blog tour, and I’m excited to be telling people about my story and the characters I’ve come to love so much.
***
What’s this, you ask, a novel about Edward Gardiner? Why on earth would somebody wish to write something like that?
I can think of so many reasons, one of which being that every respectable man of good character and a charming wife must be in want of a story! And in Pride and Prejudice, we see every evidence of Mr Gardiner being a man of excellent character. Lizzy Bennet adores her London-based aunt and uncle, and more importantly, she respects them. Jane Austen describes this in this way:
Mr Gardiner was a sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister, as well by nature as education. The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well-bred and agreeable. Mrs Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs Bennet and Mrs Philips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially there subsisted a very particular regard.
Sensible, well-bred, agreeable, young, amiable, intelligent, elegant…. What’s not to like? And such is the closeness between the older Bennet sisters and the Gardiners that Jane stays with them for several months after Bingley departs Meryton, and they later invite Lizzy to join them on a holiday that takes them to Derbyshire, and ultimately, Pemberley.
Surely such a fine couple, so charming in their own ways and so beloved by one of our favourite characters, must have a fascinating story all their own. The Assistant is such a story, wending its way through Derbyshire, the ballrooms and warehouses of London, all the way to the distant shores of Nova Scotia.
Not surprisingly, Lizzy and her uncle Edward had a special relationship dating back to her childhood. As an intelligent man, he loved that similar spark in his niece and recognized in her a wit and curiosity that would lead her on grand adventures of her own. He also knew that those little ears heard everything and that her mind forgot nothing! He had better not mention that mysterious lady he had recently encountered in her hearing! For who knows what little Lizzy might do with that information! Fortunately, Lizzy is taken enough with Edward’s new assistant that he need not worry about her spending all her time listening in on conversations.
Here is an excerpt from The Assistant, in which Edward travels to visit his sister and her family.
***
“Are you now too fine for my simple house, Brother?” Frances Bennet asked, oblivious to her current status as wife to a gentleman when her brother was a mere tradesman. “You, who are used to the latest fashions of London and who goes gallivanting off to parts of the country for your business. Do you see anything here you like?” She gestured at the lavishly appointed, somewhat rococo sitting room in which they took their tea.
“And my daughters, my fine daughters, what think you of them, Brother? Are they not a handsome collection of girls? See how strong and big they are growing.”
Edward turned to admire his nieces with such adequate attention as to satisfy their mother. The elder two were, indeed, quite handsome. Jane, especially, had the promise of great beauty upon her. At eleven years of age, her prettiness had not yet begun to change into the loveliness of womanhood, but Edward could see a future in which her poor father might have to lock his doors against her suitors. She had her mother’s sweet and generous nature but tempered with her father’s calm intelligence. Yes, she would be a prize for some lucky young man.
Elizabeth, his favourite of the girls, was not quite as beautiful as her older sister, but there was a sparkle to her eyes that would also stop hearts someday. Even as young as she was, her regard held a touch of irony and a tireless curiosity, and she scampered about the countryside with little regard to her mother’s nerves, always looking for a shady spot to collapse and read whatever tome she had absconded with from her father’s library. There were no secrets to be had from Lizzy, Edward realized. He would have to be careful about discussing Miss Grant over the course of this visit. Those young ears heard all and that mind, so keen and perceptive, understood far more than her mere nine years should allow.
The younger three girls were little more than babies. Mary, seven years old, was quiet and moody, most likely the result of being ignored in favours of her bright older sisters or her two active younger ones. Catherine and Lydia, aged five and nearly four, took all of their mother’s energy. They were pretty enough little girls, Edward supposed, all covered in lace and ribbons, but at such tender ages, he could hardly have an opinion of their character.
~*~
“I want a walk!” Elizabeth announced a while later as the adults took their tea.
“Now Lizzy, you know not to interrupt,” her mother admonished her sternly. Mr Bennet merely gazed at his impertinent daughter as if agreeing with her assessment.
“I am sorry to interrupt, Mama,” she declaimed as she had been taught, “but I still want a walk! Who shall come with me? Come, Jane! And you, Matthew I think your name is, you shall come too. We shall explore the wilds of Araby, just through those trees. Papa, are there many trees and much snow in Araby?”
Matthew looked at Edward, tacitly asking his permission. “How is your ankle, lad? Are you up for scrambling over stiles and under shrubbery with these young monsters who are my nieces?” He smiled at the girls.
“I, Uncle Edward, am a lady,” pronounced Jane in clear tones, “and I do not scramble.” She looked serenely down her perfect nose. “I should enjoy a walk, though, Lizzy. I shall get my heavy coat, for it is cold.”

461px-'The_Elphinston_Children'_by_Henry_Raeburn,_Cincinnati_Art_Museum 1814 The AssistantRiana has told me that she could easily see Lizzie dressed as on the picture, which I also could, Lizzie in her adventure clothes! It would be so very like Elizabeth to do such a thing! *laughs cheekily* It is also very fun to read of a young Lizzie Bennet and to see that she will only change a little during the ten years between Riana’s book and her first meeting with arrogant and shy Mr Darcy.
Though I loved to see how Mr Gardiner came to be ‘Uncle and Aunt Gardiner’ it was quite an adventure!

 

 

MY REVIEW;

The plot starts in Derby, where Mr Edward Gardiner, is on business, during a festival day in the busy town, when he takes a walk, his life is turned upside-down when he finds a young boy, who later becomes Mr Gardiner’s ‘Assistant’, as the boy is a genius with numbers, and yet the Assistant is very private and have some oddities which make the reader think.
What Edward is not prepared for is the mystery and intrigue that surrounds his new assistant. A letter arrives at Mr Gardiner from a mysterious ‘Miss Grant’ who knows his young assistant, and soon Mr Gardiner’s world ends as he knows it and is turned on its axel as he falls for the mysterious ‘Miss Grant’.
A ball makes Mr Gardiner and ‘Miss Grant’ meet and feelings blossom, though mystery and treachery make ‘Miss Grant’ disappear and The Assistant and Mr Gardiner cross the Atlantic to solve the mystery. Soon the very private assistant’s identity is revealed…

Now a little about our author, Riana!

Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11 and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

And there’s a chance to buy this wonderful new book!! Go and do it! I would!

Links

Universal book link: https://www.books2read.com/theassistant

If you want store-specific links for Amazon, they are as follows.
Amazon US link: https://www.amazon.com/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon Canada link: https://www.amazon.ca/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4/

And you can also contact our lovely author here;

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly

Website – https://rianaeverly.com/

And NOW, FINALLY the GIVEAWAY!!! There’s a chance to win a copy of this adventurous book about Mr Gardiner and how he became the beloved uncle of the Bennet girls!

Rafflecopter Giveaway
I am giving away five copies of the E-book to blog readers through a random drawing on Rafflecopter. I will contact winners through the email address they provide to ascertain the appropriate format for the file. I will email the file directly to the winners.

Rafflecopter

And is it at this time, I am afraid! Though do either go and buy the book or enter the giveaway, it is well worth the effort, I promise! So, I will see you all after my exams! On a side note, check back on my blog in several weeks as a Short Story of “The Assistant” might appear!

See you, guys!

 

 

 

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Scotland Regency Adventure

The next adventure starts as I see Edinburgh appear under me, as my flight commences with its descent and landing in the Scottish highland. My anticipation of seeing old friends again makes me fidget in my seat, I can’t wait to get out of the airport and find my friends in the city!

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Last time I was in Edinburgh, the airport showed itself to be a pleasant and well placed in contrast to the city, only thirty or so minutes from the heart of the city.

I found the girls near Waverly Bridge, and Elaine, Christin and I were off for the Potter Trail Tour straight away, the tour guide Becky was a nice Transfiguration Professor, and tour guide who told the eager people of the tour about the details some of us knew, and some we didn’t about the famous book series. The tour ended near Victoria Street which is also seen as part of Diagon Alley.

After that we made our way back to Waverly St. to pick up Emma aka Em, who we were soon united with, then we picked up some food on the way to our apartment, where we relaxed the rest of the evening. The apartment is two big rooms; one bedroom, one living room/dining room, bath and kitchen and with a small entrance hall. After food, we brought out the gifts, we had all assembled for Christin, aka my regency sister who received numerous Ravenclaw (Hogwarts) things, including a Ravenclaw Stone, Banner and a Jane Austen bracelet. We played Hogwarts Monopoly and then around midnight went to bed after much laughter and talk.

Saturday dawned, it rained! It poured cats and dogs, so instead of doing the Potter Trail with Emma, we postponed it. An interview about the Potter Trail will appear on my blog in April during my interview with friend and fellow blogger, Christin.

Since the weather was so bad, we headed for the National Portrait Gallery, where we spent an enjoyable morning. In the portrait gallery, pictures ranged from modern pictures to pictures and sketches of Charles I and his unfortunate death, pictures of French ladies and gentlemen, regency pictures where nature and man were combined, to Queen Victoria and further up to famous Premier Minister Churchill.

Thereafter we headed for the Assembly Rooms, to practice for the evening’s ball. There we met up with several known faces, including costume expert Zack and other friends from Bath. My friends and I were all in costume, which got us an acknowledged comment from our dancing master and we were again, led through numerous dances, reels and quadrilles by Regency Dance Master Stuart Marsden.Sophia hair for ball

We hurried back to our lovely little apartment, where we changed out of wet clothes, into comfortable dry clothes and started to get ready for the evening’s ball. Can’t wait! Emma helped us all with our hair, she really is a genius about arranging hair!

The ball was amazing!! So lively, fun and difficult at the same time! 20180310_232148200_iOS

And the demonstrations of dancing was amazing! They were so good! The dancers just kept going! Though so did the rest of us, I danced nearly every dance, except for the next to last sets, and I did have some very nice partners, all of them I knew from earlier balls. The girls and I had a wonderful time, dancing, chatting, meeting new people and catching up with old friends and acquaintances.

Emma and Sophia at the ball

We joked about the fact if it had been during the Regency, the girls and I would have been engaged to each other, several times over during the last few years! Since we always end up dancing three or more times together during a ball. I had half of my dances spoken for, so I danced a few times with the girls and with James, Jay and Jon. I was only sad to see that the Savage dance had been taken out of the ball plans, as it’s a favourite of mine. Though the cotillion is very, very pretty because it includes not only tour de dames but also waltz steps, which I love.

We went back to our apartment to toast to Christin’s birthday again and ended up playing ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ where Elaine won, she played as Elizabeth Bennet, while Mary Bennet who was played by Emma ended up with Mr Wickham, Jane Bennet with Mr Denny and Caroline Bingley as a spinster. Before we were in bed it was close to 3 am Sunday morning! It was a lovely ending to the evening.

The next morning, we all packed our bags and left the apartment to go and use the last few hours in the city. Christin led the way, as we took Emma and Elaine on a shortened Potter Trail tour through Greyfriars Churchyard where the poet William McGonagall and You-Know-Who is buried and inspired J. K. Rowling when she wrote “The Goblet of Fire” and the churchyard scene – the churchyard did remind me of the scene in “The Goblet of Fire” where You-Know-Who is brought back to life. We ended at the Elephant House where J. K. Rowling might have started the draft of “Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone” where we had lunch.

Then we returned to Victoria Street, aka Diagon Alley, where the shops are the well-known Madame Malkin (a tailoring shop), Flourish and Blotts (an antique bookshop), and Weasleys Wizards Wheezes (A tourist Harry Potter inspired shop). A quick visit to Edinburgh Castle, where we took several pictures, and then we walked on steps and more steps through the city, before Christin and I made our way to the bus station to get the luggage we had stashed there earlier that morning.

 

It was sad to say goodbye to Emma and Elaine again especially has it had been a short weekend since we had had a funny and wonderful weekend full of Harry Potter, Regency and fun together. Christin and I spent an enjoyable time at the airport after a short ride there in the Airport Link. It was nearly too sad to say goodbye to my regency sister again, but I know we will soon be reunited. I ate a quick dinner and bought a new book for my trip home before I had to find my gate and were soon on my way back to Denmark.

Another adventure had ended, but again it was fun and enjoyable – I can’t wait for the next adventure with my friends and regency family!

 

 

The Exile – The Countess visit Longbourn

The Exile2 Blog Tour Banner[1412]Welcome back dear readers! It has been a while! I got NEWS!

I’m pleased to announce that Don Jacobson has a new book written and published, the next in the line of the Wardrobe story. I wonder what everyone will think of the new book, I personally loved it!

I will let you, dear readers go on now, Don has graciously let us read a blurb from his book, and further down in this blog there is an excerpt too. Warning, long blog entry, so I hope you can manage.

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

“Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.” – Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion

And now, dear readers, I hope you desperately want to get your hands on the book, therefore I will let you read what I think of the book, through my review.

My Review of the book;

This book, the fifth in the row, takes place when Kitty or Lady Kate is 63 years old and returns to Longbourn after some odd fifty years away. Now she must assure that her father takes the appropriate steps to preserve her version of the future, secure who the Keeper of the Wardrobe will be and make sure that the remaining Bennet sister will find her way to happiness.

From peaceful Deauville to war-torn Europe, we follow how steps are taken to protect the Bennet’s and the Wardrobe against the change of time, the evil which will use it for their own purposes and even Bennet’s who aren’t ready for their time to learn.

I was very pleased with Don’s next piece of the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series, and small plot holes I had noticed in the earlier books was filled with the information you are given in this book, including how Lydia and Wickham became so very devoted to each other, and how steps are taken which will lead Wickham to become a new man and Lydia to become the powerful and strong Countess of Matlock.

Much laughter and yet sadness was presented in this book, as many of the characters from earlier books had begun their next great adventure. A new sense of Lydia, as a grown up and sensible woman started to emerge, which I find to my liking, as it would be another character who Don would make me like for the first time. Furthermore, old enemies appear as the book draws to a close, remember back to “The Exile” and then it will make sense.

I do suggest a handkerchief for the ending though since I did cry a bit as it was tragic and yet sweet in its own way.

All in all, another masterpiece to the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series. I can only congratulate Don on yet another wonderful book and hope to see the next one soon.

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Dear readers, Don is very generous and have allowed us all a peek into his wonderful book!! Imagine that! Don gave me carte blanche to edit in the chapter, we have been allowed to read, but I couldn’t get myself to cut or edit anything in it so, without further ado – I give you: Chapter XXIII

This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Any reproduction without the expressed written consent of the creator of this work is expressly prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

This excerpt introduces the reader to Miss Laura Jenkinson, the spinster sister-in-law of Mrs Jenkinson of Rosings Park. She has been tasked by young Mr Hunters of Wilson and Hunters, the Bennet family’s London solicitors, to retrieve Mrs Lydia Wickham from Newcastle on Tyne.

Chapter XXIII

Oakham House, London, January 2, 1812

Lydia Wickham allowed her natural exuberance to overtake her as she raced off, leaving her companion behind on the stairway leading up to the second floor of the modest red brick townhouse. She burst through the doorway to her chamber and threw herself onto the plush feather bed, a burble of excited laughter escaping her lips. In utter glee, she made an “angel” on the cloud-like satin coverlet, kicking her legs apart to swiftly bring them back together again to click the heels of her street shoes together.

Shopping did that to her—especially when she had nobody to control her purse strings. Gloves and bonnets, stockings and small clothes, day dresses and evening gowns—lace and ribbons bedecking them all—were among the greatest enjoyments she could imagine. Never in all of my life have I been fortunate enough to be set free…to bring my custom and taste to the modistes and milliners of London with carte blanche. And their faces when this stranger started ordering goods like Georgiana Darcy!
E-e-e-e-e-e-e!!!!!!
She kicked her heels on the bed and literally wriggled, feeling every square inch of her youthful body tingle with excitement and—yes—pleasure.

Until

“Mrs Wickham!”

There in the doorway stood Miss Jenkinson, Lydia’s companion: a lady just turned spinster, dark-haired, and of medium build.

Laura Jenkinson, to be fair, was older only in comparison to Mrs Wickham. The sister of a deceased clergyman, Miss J (as she preferred to be styled) had been forced to earn her way—much like her late brother’s wife—when the grippe took off her two nieces and much older brother. Unlike his widow, who was employed as a young lady’s companion down in Kent, she had been saddened but not scarred by the horrible events now three years behind her. Her natural spirit had not been crushed to the point of utter compliance in all matters of her life. Her other “deficiencies” bore more powerfully upon her current situation.

Although still in her mid-twenties, she was now “on the shelf.” The term “poor as church mice” definitely applied to her family. Her Papa’s parish had been short on glebe and tithe, barely providing enough of a living for them. The question of any dowry to be settled upon her was laughable. Even before her brother’s decease, she had considered trying her fortunes in America. Then came the grim weeks in January 1809. Her brother’s patron allowed the two bereaved ladies to continue to live on his estate in a tenant’s cottage until a late spring fever carried him away.

His protection did not extend past the grave. The Jenkinson ladies resolved to abandon their sinecure when the estate’s new master, a son rarely seen on the land in recent years, roughly abused Laura when he came upon her walking just days after she had shifted from deep mourning into her now customary grey. There was no loss of virtue, but the sense of security with which she had lived her entire life fled like clouds before a North Sea gale roaring in over the Northumbrian cliffs!

Thus began her pilgrimage that lasted some months until she had entered the service of the Hunters’ family, caring for Mrs Frederick Hunters as she declined in the months before her death.

Now she was on—how did young Mr Hunters put it? Ah, yes, she was on retainer, paid a monthly stipend, to serve the needs of the firm and family. And, so she did, from her base here in Oakham House, a property held in blind trust and managed by Wilson and Hunters. When not on firm business, Miss J was under strict instructions to “live the life of a lady of a particular age with some, but not bountiful, means.” The red brick townhouse, appointed with imported woodwork, was pleasant, but not ostentatious, and comfortable, without speaking of any resources that would attract a fortune hunter.

Looking now at the young “lady” bouncing on the bedstead, all Miss Jenkinson could do was shake her head. Of all the little “projects” that had been laid before her, Lydia Wickham posed the most unique set of challenges.

Here was a girl, one who should still have been in the schoolroom, now married for over a third of a year. She seemed to be without any social restrictions, always ready for enjoyment, always searching for the next bit of excitement. She surely would have profited from another twelve-month in the schoolroom.

The schoolroom—that was Miss Jenkinson’s other “deficiency.” She was a bit of a bluestocking…actually a lot of a bluestocking…enough to deter most men.

Ahhh, the schoolroom, mused Miss J, God help me, but I loved it so. Papa and Charles, of course, had their bookroom and their Oxford friends, but I had my sanctuary filled with books and maps where Miss Wallace showed me the wonders of the Classics—Homer and all of the Greeks, of course—but then the geniuses of Roman times! How the Latin rolled in my mouth! Greek was so elemental, almost primitive at times. But, Latin? Oh, what elegance to repeat the speeches of Cicero—ones that moved the Plains of Jupiter when the citizens gathered to elect their leaders! Or old Seneca when he contemplated morality and mortality!

Her lot was keeping Lydia Wickham in check until Mr Hunters could more fully explain the purpose behind bringing a soldier’s wife completely across the country—nearly 300 miles—all the way from Newcastle on Tyne. But, reining in the child’s inner hedonist—yes, Lydia Wickham was nothing if not about self-pleasure—was proving to be quite a task indeed. Laura had followed her instructions to the letter. She had been tasked to escort the girl on shopping excursions in Town, quiet now as those who could escape to their estates for the holidays were long-gone from their normal haunts. Others, the highest reaches of the ton who usually preferred to stay closer to Kensington and Carlton, had, perforce, travelled to Northamptonshire at the behest of the Marquess of Salisbury for the Cecil Twelfth Night Ball.

The reduction in customers, albeit traditional, had, none-the-less, left those toiling in the London fashion world somewhat—Miss J smiled as she punned—at loose ends. Lydia Wickham swept in like a late-season storm rolling up the Thames Estuary. The accounts opened on her behalf by the firm only stipulated that all purchases needed to be delivered to Oakham House no later than the morning of January the Third.

With only emergency purchases to be sent to Burghley House or one of the other Cecil estates housing the Marquess’ guests, there were ample seamstresses and milliners’ apprentices to ply their trade on behalf of Mrs Wickham.

Since their arrival at the front portico of Oakham House six days ago, Lydia often had strained the limits of propriety, tending to exhibit behaviour more often ascribed to members of the climbing class. Her sense of dignity was stunted. She would dash around, not mindlessly but rather with a purpose, modiste showrooms. These temples of fashion, usually only open to the wealthiest members of the First Circle, were now in the reach of the impoverished wife of a minor officer because of the golden web that led from the Wilson and Hunters offices in Lincoln’s Inn.

Yet, she did not show any awareness that she acted contrary to society’s expectations of ‘proper behaviour.’ Lydia Wickham was demanding, to be sure, but only in that, she was almost monomaniacal in expressing her desires. She placed every sense and sentiment that passed through her mind in front of the entire world. She held nothing back.

Nor was she a calculating and malicious shrew. Miss J had seen those, tall, thin, beturbaned women who dressed in garish colours, looking down what they assumed to be fashionably long noses at the world about them. They would profess astonishment at those who did not act in accordance with their copybook expectations of social norms—all the better to elevate themselves in a world determined to isolate and exclude interlopers.

Lydia Wickham wanted nothing more than to enjoy herself and to be surrounded by those who acted as she did. Still a child in so many ways, she had not been shaped by Town behaviour. Instead, when she had only been young Lydia Bennet, she frolicked through the fields of her life in bucolic Hertfordshire. And, while it may have shocked many of her oft-dowdy sorority, Miss J found much to admire in the gusto with which Mrs Wickham embraced her life.

The older lady did worry that the girl, some ten years younger than she, could not well endure disappointment, though, embracing as she clearly did only half of Marcus Aurelias’ vaunted Roman Stoicism—that pleasure and pain are equal parts of life and needed to be endured in similar measure. Well-meaning or even indolent adults had shielded Lydia from nearly every instructive blow.

Yet, the time for philosophizing would be later. Miss J needed to take Mrs Wickham in hand immediately: gently if possible, brusquely if not.

She firmly repeated herself, “ Mrs Wickham! Enough of this hoydenish behaviour! If you wish to be taken seriously by society, if you wish to reflect credit upon your family, you must learn to regulate yourself.”

Lydia sat up and draped her legs over the edge of the bed, swinging her feet to and fro, showing a considerable amount of ankle with each perambulation. A pout pushed her lower lip out as thunderclouds collected above, darkening her remarkable emerald green eyes. Laura slowly moved across the room. She settled on the edge of the bed, turning herself ever so slightly to be able to address the youngster on the same level.

She tried a little sugar to cajole Lydia, “I do understand how exciting working one’s way through the shops can be. I remember the times my Papa would bring us to Town when he waited upon his bishop. I would save up my allowance for an entire quarter just to be able to bring back a bonnet direct from a London milliner, all the better to show my more rusticated friends in the North just how cosmopolitan I, a clergyman’s daughter, could be.”

Lydia bit hard upon the bait dangling before her, “Oh, imagine Maria Lucas’ reaction when I show her my Town clothes! She can put on such airs, you know, just because her father went and got himself knighted.”

Miss J continued, hoping to encourage a bit more charitable reaction upon her charge’s part, “While I am certain Miss Lucas will wish she had the good fortune to have come to the attention of a benefactor as you did, she sounds as though she would wish you joy rather than be jealous. Or, am I mistaken about her?”

While Lydia was one of the most self-centred persons outside of the Prince Regent’s hangers-on, she also had her own code of honour, well-formed and distinct. Once you had been judged her friend, Lydia would defend you from all comers, both familial and foreign!

And Maria Lucas was one whom, she was certain, would return to her former closeness once the unusual nature of Lydia’s marriage to her dear Wickham had dimmed somewhat. Maria was never going to threaten Mrs Wollstonecraft’s bent for scholarship. However, she was a dear creature whose innate sweetness was always a source of comfort to Meryton’s young ladies tossed as they were upon the waves of youthful love and loss.

Lydia recalled the time when Mary had snapped a particularly nasty unkindness at Maria just as the girl was going on about some bit of gossip—or what passed for such given her age and the news’ source—during a morning call at Lucas Lodge. Where moments before had sat her playmate, posing as a grown-up lady preening in front of her own Mama and Lydia’s, was instantly a whirlwind of ribbons and muslin dashing from the room.[i] Lydia had then spent over an hour trying to comfort the distraught girl, long enough to have earned an invitation to luncheon from a grateful Lady Lucas.

However, Lydia did not forget the slight given by her elder sister. A few days after the event, Mary’s window-pane spectacles began mysteriously vanishing—first from the pianoforte—for Mary removed them to read music—and then, later, from the sideboard in the dining room—for Papa had briefly banned their wearing while at the table—and finally from Mary’s monk-like bedchamber. The first two times, the glasses had been located quickly…once laced through the chains holding the weights in the great case clock that dominated the parlour…and later hanging by a piece of yarn above the pigsty. However, the last time her sister’s affectation went wandering, lest Mary somehow mistake the message, they were found propped on the nose of the bust of Julius Caesar that Papa had insisted upon installing in the corner of the west-facing sitting room: the lenses smeared with Cook’s famous strawberry preserves!

Mrs Wickham rearranged her face and sat back before saying in a solemn tone, “Miss J, you do have the right of it. Maria would never begrudge me my happiness. She would ask me if she could borrow one of my gowns if we were off to an Assembly. Then we would join my dear sister Kitty and dance until the musicians packed away their tools.

“There are times I regret leaving that life, you know. I would not trade my dear Wickham for anything, but I miss not having to worry about money. That is why I could not contain myself just now. I do apologize.”

Laura smiled at the contrition that showed yet another facet of the complicated soul that was Lydia Wickham.

She stood and smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of her gown with elegant brushes of her long-fingered hands. Then she began to move from the room, turning to look over her shoulder at the childlike matron, saying, “Perhaps we might gather in the breakfast room for a casual luncheon in, oh, perhaps thirty minutes. That will allow us both some time to freshen ourselves.

“We have one more appointment this afternoon, one for which we cannot be late. You are to meet the person who has taken you into her interest.”

[i] Please see The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Ch. XII.

HI, Guys, I know you are likely thinking, How long is this blog entry!? Well, I am nearly done, you just have to scroll down to the GIVEAWAY! Yeah, you read that right, an INTERNATIONAL giveaway, there’s a chance to win a copy of this book! So please bear with me for a few minutes more, thank you.

Author Bio;

Don Jacobson Head Shot[568]

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a speciality in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty-pound cat, Bear.

And FINALLY, the GIVEAWAY!! I wish everyone good luck in the draw! Click on the link please – and good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they, (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b21/?

Contact Info:

Website

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Hi Guys, that’s it for this time, but on a side note; Do return in early March, to read about “My Scotland Adventure”! See you!

 

 

Anticipation of Scotland Adventure

Hi Guys,

I couldn’t help myself but write of the anticipation of my next adventure next month in the Highlands of Scotland, in Edinburgh, along with several friends!
It is a weekend visit, from Friday afternoon to Sunday Evening, and I can hardly wait to meet up with several crazy if wonderful friends!

We are going to see several sights, including a few Harry Potter ones, and also attend the Assembly Regency Ball, which will again be called by Stuart Marsden. On that note, I have bought a 20180205_145438041_iOSnew wonderful regency ball dress for the occasion, it is autumn reddish/brown with gold details. I intend to add either red or black ballerina shoes, black gloves and a fan.

Though what I mostly look forward to, is just to have fun with my friends, as it has been several months since I saw them last, in Bath, during the annual festival. We always have plenty of fun, when we are together. So I do believe we will have fun yet again.

Will I see you there? Do leave word if you are in Edinburgh during the weekend of March 9-11th, and maybe are attend the Assembly Ball.

I will be back soon with my guest, Don Jacobson on the 20th of February, during the book tour of his newest book, “The Exile, The Countess Visits Longbourn”.

Christmas 2017

It is December again! Hasn’t this year just gone by in a flash? I feel like I have just taken down the Christmas tree from last year and now the calendar says 1st of December!

Sorry guys, I haven’t been as active as I have wished the last few weeks, but exam time is coming up on me here in DK. The term paper was passed just last week, and the defence of the exam paper coming up on Wednesday!!! Yeah, I am scared out of my head as it is the first time we are to receive grades!

And since it is Christmas, or well the countdown for Christmas has started, it is also important to know what I am reading, well I am back with an old friend – namely Jane Odiwe’s “Mr Darcy’s Christmas Calendar” – a chapter a day, so it will last the whole of the month. I am looking forward to returning to it and enjoying a good old-fashioned Christmas Calendar like I remember from my childhood. I am always in agony over whether Lizzy will meet Mr Darcy in the end, or will have her own happily ever after! Yeah, I know, I am a sucker for romance! *sigh*

It is also that time of year, where most of us, watch Hallmarks Christmas movies, Love Actually for the Brits among my readers *winks* Am I right? Or maybe the new Christmas movie on Netflix, “A Christmas Prince” or my personal favourite “Beauty and the Beast – The Enchanted Christmas” which always puts me in the Christmas mood.
And the very serious questions; Will it snow this year? Or will it once again disappoint and just be grey and rainy? Though a tradition I am kind of starting or have had for a few years now is attending the ballet, during December and see the classic Christmas tale of “The Nutcracker” It is one of my favourite stories connecting to Christmas, besides “A Christmas Carol” – I am sure everyone is familiar with the tale? “Marley was dead, to begin with, the beginning. There was no doubt about it…” and we all know how it ends, “God bless all of us”
Do any of us have any traditions during December, besides make delicious cookies, sing carols, hope for snow and celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December?
Here in Denmark, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, why … I actually never knew why we are different from the rest of the world in that particular field. But in my family, we wake up on the morning of the 24th, make a delicious breakfast and then eat and unwrap a few gifts in course of the morning, before my mom and I normally attend the Christmas service – and then we come home since we are hosting my grandfather this year. My mother and I normally watch the annually shown Disney Christmas Show, which we have done since I was a small child.

But what a year it has been, all my adventures with my friends, a new start at my university and my travels to Bath, Edinburgh, Berlin… And not to mention that plans are in progress about March, for yet another Regency adventure to old Scotland. Will I see you there?

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis

Mistaken

Welcome Back, dear readers! This time I am hosting Jessie Lewis and her novel, “Mistaken” and without further ado, I give you;

Mistaken By Jessie Lewis

Blurb:

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgement, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.

Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently manoeuvred into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.

Debut author Jessie Lewis’s “Mistaken” invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.

Review by Sophia Thorsen;

To be honest, this book was damn annoying, for several reasons! One, the readers are continuously thrown around between Darcy, Elizabeth, Bingley, Jane and others – where we get the story from all of their point of views. From Darcy and Elizabeth, it’s as always obvious that they are deeply in love, and love to tease each other! And definitely don’t want to lose each other again, after Elizabeth’s confrontation with blasted Wickham! *eye roll* that man never changes! But then we see it from the other character’s views and you are completely bewildered about what they see, and what you have just read from Elizabeth and Darcy and how the other characters can be so very mistaken – oh yes take heed of that word, dear readers! We also have several men who are interested in Elizabeth, a very drunken song about the Bennet girls, which makes our naive and sweet Bingley decide against Jane, and instead, focus on … guess who, oh yeah guys, Elizabeth!  

Mistaken is a word best used all through the book, from Bingley’s note to Darcy, to Bingley’s intentions towards Jane, Lady Catherine’s nastiness, all cases of “Mistaken”.

On another note, I definitely wanted to kick someone’s a** several times through the book, and it’s none other than a certain Lady Catherine – she’s not only annoying but downright nasty this time around – but then again, when is she not?

The Mistaken notions lead so far, as to turn sweet Jane Bennet into the worst sort of jealous bi*** I have ever experienced before, in a variation. She maligns Lizzy’s name not only in Derbyshire but also in London, side by side with Lady Ashby aka the future Countess Matlock – and therefore Darcy’s cousin’s wife. But it was rather refreshing to see another side to sweet and meek Jane Bingley nee Bennet – that she is actually capable of ruining her close relationship with her beloved sister, all because of mistaken notions and feelings of not being good enough, or as good as Lizzy. Real sibling rivalry, maybe taken a bit too far but otherwise a fresh picture of Jane.  

We also have the mistaken notion of feeling like being led by the nose around the scene, for the longest time, until things begin to clear, to leave a very unsettled picture. A Bingley who wants to leave for Canada, a pissed off Darcy, and a Jane who FINALLY realizes what she has done! Elizabeth is witty, clever and teasing throughout the book, loves with her whole heart which belongs utterly to Darcy – *sigh* so sweet! Love a good romance between Darcy and Elizabeth!  

Jane is not exactly the sweet Jane Bennet, readers are normally used to, but she does turn a leaf at the right time, and the right place, in the book, which delighted this reader beyond measure! We also see Elizabeth as the sister who NEVER losses hope for reconciliation with Jane, and her wish is answered…  *sheepish smiles*  

But the book is also, really humorous, especially a new character Jessie Lewis introduces us to, Mrs Sinclair, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s grandmother, oh she is to die for! She is forthright, says precisely what she means and is downright brilliant! I loved her! Her best comment though was on one of the last pages, “Oh, you have not killed him then? How disappointing. Young men nowadays never seem to want to do anything properly.” I was nearly falling on my face, from laughing that much from that comment alone! Even if the scene was deeply serious! I hope someone doesn’t think I am completely without proper feelings but it was so hilarious!

The book was very well written, a good plot if a little confusing at certain points, it touches on the best parts of Elizabeth Bennet’s personality; witty, clever and teasing I would say, and deeply annoying also, sorry Jessie! But personally, I prefer a plot where we only see the story from two sides, instead of four or more POV’s, as it can get hard to follow the story. But a big round of applause to Jessie for her new book! Congratulations on your first Pride and Prejudice variation! I hope to see another sooner or later!    

Author Bio:

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

Buy Links:

Mistaken   (Amazon US)

Mistaken   (Amazon UK)

Mistaken is also available on Kindle Unlimited

Annnnnnnnnd now the giveaway! You know the drill, guys! Read the terms and good luck for winning one copy of this book!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b18/?

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mistaken by Jessie Lewis. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

 

And that dear readers are what we authors call FIN. See you soon again! *winks*

Lizzy Meets the Countess

Hello, Dear Readers! Yeah, I know, I have been here quite a lot these last months, but I have read quite a LOT lately! And one of these books, are Don Jacobson’s continuation of his Bennet Wardrobe series, called “Lizzy Meets the Countess” Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess My good friend, Don Jacobson is BACK! With a novella to his successful series of The Bennet Wardrobe.

The universe was shaken once again on Midsummer’s Day in 1801. The Bennet Wardrobe’s door to the future was opened in the bookroom at Longbourn. This time it was the Wittiest of the Bennet’s, 10-year old Lizzy. And voila, a thousand bees buzzed and the pressure built…

And if you are thinking along the same lines as I, I’m pretty sure you are thinking “OH SHIT!”

But Which/Where/When was Lizzy’s destination? What needs could a young girl, only beginning to learn to make her way in the Regency, have that could be answered only by the Wardrobe? Were the requirements of another Bennet, one who began as younger, but had aged into a beautiful, confident leader of Society, be the prime movers behind Lizzy’s journey? Is the enigmatic Lady Kate the force that shaped the destiny of Lizzy and her younger sisters left back in Hertfordshire? How do the visions of the future brought home by young Lizzy help shape her world?

I was very pleasantly surprised that Lizzy appears in Fitzwilliam House, in Edwardian London later, where Henry Fitzwilliam and his Countess are at their Beach House in Deauville and we are introduced to old friends from “The Exile”. Lizzy is put into the details of the time, and what year it is – and acts way beyond her age, which yet again shows what an extraordinary author Don truly is.

Soon we see Fitzwilliam, Robard children and Elizabeth run around the beach in Deauville, while they are watched by a sad Catherine Fitzwilliam, oh yes, that is indeed Kitty, a grown-up Kitty with two children of her own and surrounded by family and friends alike, though separated from her blood family with more than a century. Elizabeth shows an uncanny perception, of where she is, from the very start, like she knows where Longbourn is and always was – and how to get home too, just by that simple thing of following her nose. We are introduced to Deauville House, the house we know from “the Exile” and “the Keeper” as the summer home of Georgiana Darcy’s when she wasn’t busy with her concert schedule. Though Lizzy shows a mind which more belongs to a twenty-something old than a ten-year-old, Kitty is acutely aware that her elder sister cannot stay in her “present” but has to return to her own “present/here/now” to be able to meet her destiny.

Which ends the first part of Lizzy’s adventure… and the novella sadly enough!

Though now the cover, you may wonder about a bit, Don explained about his amazing cover, that he and Janet Taylor, worked closely on;

“For Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, the strong visual was already in hand—or so it seemed. I had originally been composing a story called The Darcys Meet Frankenstein.  As such, I had already begun focusing on the Villa Diodati where Byron, Godwin, and Shelley had gathered during the summer of 1816. Because Mary Shelley’s immortal Frankenstein began its life as a short story composed at Diodati, the novel has been illustrated countless times. Early on William Purser made an engraving for a fronts piece of an edition. Later Edward Francis Finden made a colourized version of the original print.
The dramatic nighttime vision fired our collective imagination. But, would it actually fit a novella whose focus, while still keeping elements of the mature Elizabeth’s encounters with Mary Godwin, had been shifted to explore the youthful Lizzy’s interaction with the Wardrobe?
We decided that, while one could read the novella as two separate stories, both tales were so interlocked that to consider the Lizzy portion without the Elizabeth segment and vice versa would strip the deeper meaning from both. The visions besetting the adult find their roots in the child—or so Dr. Freud would assert.”

The next part of this amazing, but all too short novella, we all blame you, Don *smiles sheepishly and giggles slightly* takes place in the weird and sad summer of 1816, where the Darcy’s has just lost a baby and are on their much-delayed wedding tour. 1816 was known as The Year without Summer at Lake Geneva, but we find Lord Byron, Shelley, and Godwin all thrown together with the Darcy’s in a villa by the lake.

And if you, dear reader, know just a bit of literature, you’ll recognise those names instantly as famous and well-known literary names in the 19th century, and even today as well, especially Godwin with her immortal “Frankenstein” which she started to pen that very summer. And if Don is to be believed, it was because of Elizabeth Darcy’s depression because of her miscarriage, and her dreams, where the past might actually have shown itself in the form of a red hat with a giant red rose on top.

Mary Godwin shows herself to be a kind and compassionate woman and friend to Elizabeth, and to Darcy also. Darcy goes so far as to call her “the other Mary” since we know that Elizabeth’s younger sister is also called Mary. Lord Byron is shown to be, sorry for being nasty, but a rake and an asshole to use a modern word to characterise him, while Shelley also is shown as a compassionate man, and ultimately ends up married to Mary Godwin.

Don was insisting on the point of explaining the Wardrobe and it’s basics so read along, and see if you understood the mechanics of the wonders of the Bennet Wardrobe;

“The Bennet Wardrobe was created by the master cabinetmaker Grinling Gibbons in the early 1690s for the first Bennet to own Longbourn Estate in Meryton, Mr Christopher Bennet. The Wardrobe is capable of transporting the user to any time in the future where the Wardrobe itself exists. Then the user can return to the exact same moment in the present. However, the portal in time is only open to those who are of the direct blood lineage of Christopher Bennet. Which does, of course, open up a world of possibilities.

 After finishing the first half of The Exile, I was looking ahead to Part 2 of the book (essentially 1932-1944). But, something was nagging at me: the uncharted time sequence between 1892 when Part 1 ended and 1915 when Henry Fitzwilliam’s War had been set to explore the young Viscount’s behaviour toward Kitty Bennet after she arrived through the Wardrobe in 1886.

A “breadcrumb” providentially rose to the surface. I discovered it in a transitional chapter (written in early 2016) in “The Keeper” (Ch. XLII) where Mary is contemplating a letter she received from Lizzy who was travelling in Europe with Darcy. In it, Elizabeth relates a tale about the time they had been spending with another party of British travellers at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland…Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Godwin. And I asked myself, “What would have inspired Mary Godwin’s story Frankenstein: The New Prometheus if it had been written in the Bennet Wardrobe universe during the summer of 1816?”

In our world, her reading of Erasmus Darwin’s Zoönomia (1796) stimulated her creative process. Her own miscarriages and lost babes set the context!

But in the Wardrobe universe, the Darcys were in attendance at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva that summer of 1816. Might not their attendance at Frankenstein’s birth imply that there had been some influence at the conception? Godwin’s story envisioned the future but did so by placing the gothic tale using the tools of her modern world—the Industrial Revolution—familiar to her listeners and readers.

Who within Godwin’s vicinity had the ability to suggest that or an even deeper future? Only Elizabeth Darcy. But, her trip through the Wardrobe could not have been recent, for what account would Godwin have written if a mature Elizabeth had related a history of a trip to the future as a mature woman? Likely Jules Verne’s The Time Machine.

Fresh memories are too crisp to smudge into gothic horror.

However, the foggy recollections of an adult relating Dreamtime images from her childhood, those fantasies that rise up at the edges of sleep, would provide ample fodder for a novelist.

And that is the root of Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess…a journey to the future taken by ten-year-old Lizzy. There, in 1907, in the company of characters familiar from The Exile, the young girl sees wonderful realities which will become remarkably telling dreams fifteen years later on the shores of Lake Geneva.”

That, dear readers, is the story you will learn in Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess…how Elizabeth Darcy came to dream of an Edwardian future.

Don was so very nice as to allow us a glimpse of “Lizzy Meets the Countess”, if you want to read it. This is the excerpt from Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess is © 2017 by Donald P. Jacobson

Chapter XVII

After several minutes, Elizabeth broke the silence. She began to speak after leaning forward to stare down at the ground between her feet. She clasped her hands together and rested her forearms on her thighs. Her deep brown eyes were focused upon the ground about ten feet in front of the bench.

“Mary, there is something about the party gathered here that is disquieting.

“T’is neither you nor Mr. Shelley. Truly, if my husband and I had encountered only you two in Lyon, we would have gladly accepted your invitation to attend you here.

“But rather than being exiled to a chilled stone bench aside the lake, we would now be sharing a pleasant afternoon indoors. You and I would be facing off across the chessboard while the two men debated the relative merits of a Cambridge or Oxford education. Darcy finds unassuming and bright men like your Shelley and the Lake Country’s Mr. Wordsworth much to his liking. I could not be happier to know both of you.”

Turning to look up and gaze directly into her friend’s eyes, curiously neither brown nor blue, Lizzy continued firmly, “Lest you think that the irregular nature of your relationship with Shelley could be a barrier to our further society once we four return home, please know that, like my sister Mrs. Benton, I would swiftly remind you of my Lord’s injunction:

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…[i]

“For truly, my dear friend, if you shook the Bennet/Darcy family tree hard enough, a curious number of scandals and disreputable individuals would tumble to the ground. I anticipate the day you meet my youngest sister, the Widow Wickham, although her present is in stark contrast to her past.”

Again she paused and turned her eyes back to the lake’s pitching surface.

With a frown creasing her forehead, Elizabeth continued, “It is the nature of Mr. Gordon, Lord Byron, that unsettles me. He disturbs my spirit to the point of disrupting my sleep, what sleep I have been able to enjoy with the bellowing of the wind and the nature of my dreams.”

As Lizzy gathered herself, Godwin could see how much the putative leader of their expedition troubled her.

“I can accept that Miss Clairmont has fallen under his sway. She is seeing at the world through the rainbows of lust-driven love. I do know that look having seen it painted all over many a young woman’s face. I do hope that she will not learn, much as Lady Caroline did, that Byron cares for none but him.

“However the way in which Doctor Polidori fawns all over Byron and lives to please only him recalls to me another of my relatives whose name I will never again speak. My stomach curdles to the point of pain as I watch the Limping Devil[ii] manipulate that boy.”

Elizabeth paused and began to breathe quickly. Mary reached over and rubbed her back. Lizzy’s eyes once again shifted, this time seeking an invisible something on the far shore, just barely a greyish smudge appearing through scudding clouds of spray. General Fitzwilliam could have named her unfocused contemplation, something he had seen on a dozen battlefields: the thousand-yard stare.

Then the older woman continued her soliloquy in a softer voice, one that Godwin strained to hear over the whistling of the wind through the branches of the sheltering trees.

“My dreams have begun again after five years of peace. I remember them from that awful time after the summer of ‘11. Some are longer; some are shorter. They are all fraught with meanings that have much to do with my present, but also hearken to that which is mystifying.

“The reveries are different than before. Now, I am standing on the deck of the oddest ship I have ever seen. There are no sails, just giant stacks, like you see above Mr. Owens’ factories in New Lanark or the great textile mills of Scarborough, belching smoke and soot. I am crossing the sea and the ship is moving fast, but the scenery never changes. There is nothing around me but water.

“Suddenly the ship is surrounded by the most incredible leaping fish. On the back of each is a merman or mermaid, all laughing and singing in celebration. In the midst of this group is one great blue whale. As that giant beast swims sedately and closely to my vessel, the choir stops. Resting on the cetacean’s back is a cradle attended by a mer-lady with grey-blue eyes and corn silk blonde hair streaming unbound down her naked back. She is wearing a countess’ tiara. In the basket rests the sweetest little babe with eyes that reminded me of my Papa. The child smiles at me. The lady lovingly rests a hand on the child’s head.

“Behind me I hear a voice. I turn and apprehend a knight, a young giant with blonde hair that is almost white flowing down from beneath his steely helm. He towers above me. His eyes glow through the slits like the brightest candles, burning clean and bright. He opens his mouth and a giant horn sounds, like the trump at The End of Days. The fingertips of his steel gauntlets crackle with electricity like Mr. Franklin’s kite wire! He claps his metal gloves together and lightening explodes all around us…so bright that my eyes are dazzled.

“When I can see again, I am not on the ship any longer, but rather aboard a strange carriage…odd because we are moving through the streets, but there are no horses. The giant sits separated with his back is to me. A lady of regal bearing sits by my side. She smiles at me. Her red hair and green eyes are so comforting.

“She speaks to me saying, ‘Lizzy, I am Gaia. As the Goddess of this world, I am Mother to all. Have no fear. You and your babe are safe in my love. Trust in the love of your family.’  Then Madame Gaia looks out the carriage’s side window at thousands of flowers drifting across the sky. Her arm reaches out through the glass and she gently swishes her hand mixing the colors of the roses—yes they are roses—yellow, white, red and blush!

“I gaze out into the world full of those roses, and I am flying high above the countryside which is scribed with bands of iron over which a huge monster, also chuffing steam like Mr. Watt’s great engines, drags another carriage. It flies on into the dimming light until it vanishes into the ocean.

“All is dark until a pinprick of light races toward me. There in the center of it is a red hat with a giant red rose. The hat is beautiful, and I reach out to hold it. But, a pair of disembodied grey-blue eyes with a strange cast to them rises above the chapeau. They are the same as the mer-lady’s. They blink, slowly, clearly saying This is not for you.

“Then my ears are filled with the sounds of a thousand bees buzzing. And I feel like I am being squeezed until I am going to pop. At that moment, I always awaken.”

With that last revelation, Elizabeth subsided, seeming to shrink inside of her woolens. Mary looked up to see Mrs. Darcy’s lady’s maid, Sloane, hurrying across the lawn to help her mistress having observed her slumping against Miss Godwin.

Elizabeth cried off dinner that evening pleading a headache. Mr. Darcy came down to give brief regrets to the others. He then repaired back to their chamber to share his wife’s simple meal of a rich chicken soup filled with thick spätzle and fresh vegetables with clumps of yellow schmaltz bobbing atop the shimmering surface.

The absence of the Darcys threw Byron into a funk for his usual reasons: he measured his success by the size of the crowd he could enthrall.

After the meal, he commanded the parlor while standing alone next to the crackling blaze which pushed the unseasonal chill back into the corners of the room. He looked across the room at Godwin and Shelley in their regular pas de deux. Polidori hovered near his master just off the marble mantle, and Claire was playing something new from Herr Beethoven on the pianoforte. How pedestrian they had become, acting out the script of propriety and “gentle” behavior.

This would never do…not for the infamous Lord Byron…let alone Percy Bysshe Shelley and his paramour! And so he pondered. Until…

An idea struck him…something truly original and frighteningly brilliant!

He called out to the lovers, “I say, Shelley…Miss Godwin…that ghost story you read to us yesterday after dinner, what was it?  Oh yes, The History of the Inconstant Lover. Do you not agree that we could write something better?

“What say you? Polidori, do you think you could somehow forget your puerile attempt at a stage play with which you bedeviled us last year? Shelley? Miss Godwin? Pr’aps you could put something together. Then we could make a night of it. A bit like old Boccaccio and his Decameron.

“It would give us all something to do in the face of this infernal weather.”

All agreed, some more readily than others, and then the party moved on to other, more suitable fodder for conversation for the rest of the evening.

 

[i] The Bible, King James Version, The Gospel According to St. John, Ch. 8:7.

[ii] Byron’s nickname so applied because of a clubfoot. http://www.facts-about.org.uk/famous-people-facts-starting-with-l/lord-byron.htm accessed 9/10/17.

And before any of you, dear readers, freak out over the shortness of this novella, just as I did, I can assure you that another is in the progress! Don is already writing it, as we speak! And it is destined for publication in DECEMBER! This December 2017, dear readers! So you won’t have to do without your Bennet Wardrobe story for long, yay! Cheers for Don, right guys?

Fin, see you when I see you dear readers *winks*